India’s northeast most neglected, says China
An article published by Xinhua says years of neglect has fuelled unrest in the region
As Assam and Tripura went to the polls on Monday, China's State-run news agency said in a commentary India's northeastern States were "the country's most neglected region."
The article published on Monday by Xinhua, the official news agency of the Chinese government, said "years of neglect by the Indian government" had fuelled unrest in the northeastern states which border China.
The "news analysis" article issued by Xinhua on the start of polling in Assam and Tripura curiously only identified "Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland" besides the two other States, as India's northeast.
It made no mention of Arunachal Pradesh, which China has territorial claims on and which is usually referred to by the Chinese State media as "south Tibet".
The article said the northeastern states were India's "most neglected" region.
"Experts say that isolation and years of neglect by the Indian government have fuelled underdevelopment, occasional tribal unrest and insurgency in the region, thus hampering the overall growth of the northeastern states," it said, adding that "during every election, all the major political parties - the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - assure development of the region, plagued by unemployment and rampant corruption, but only time will tell whether the people trust the national parties anymore".
The article, datelined New Delhi, said citing opinion polls that the BJP was "likely to get the maximum number of seats and likely to form the next government in India" and the Congress was "facing its worst-ever defeat" on account of corruption and rising inflation.
India's elections are being closely followed by Chinese strategic analysts, who, however, point out that the outcome is unlikely to have any major impact on India-China relations as in the past both United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) governments had similar policies of engaging with China.
Strategic affairs expert Lan Jianxue of the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) told The Hindu earlier there would be no "dramatic change" to bilateral ties regardless of the outcome.
"If we look back at history, in 2003 the NDA Prime Minister Mr. Vajpayee paid a very successful visit to China and broke the ice between the two countries in some ways, after there were some difficulties in 1998 [following the nuclear test]," he said.
"After 2003 things changed for the better. China is already quite acquainted with Mr. Modi. Whether the next government is NDA or UPA or somebody else, I don't think it will have a huge impact on China-India relations because the bilateral relationship is interest-oriented, not party-oriented."
In the manifesto released on Monday, the BJP did not mention specifically ties with China but said it would improve relations with neighbours.
"The Congress-led UPA has failed to establish enduring friendly and cooperative relations with India's neighbours. India and its neighbours have drifted apart," the manifesto said. "In our neighbourhood we will pursue friendly relations. However, where required we will not hesitate from taking strong stand and steps."
Last month, the Chinese Foreign Ministry played down comments by BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi saying that China's claims on Arunachal Pradesh showed its "expansionist" mindset.
The ministry here said the boundary dispute was "left over from history" and "complex and sensitive". "What is important is that China and India have both expressed many times their determination and desire to peacefully resolve the dispute through talks, dialogue and consultation," spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
"The fact that there have been no shots fired in so many years really shows that both sides have the desire and ability to maintain peace and stability on the border".
The Chinese government in 2011 invited Mr. Modi to Beijing on a party-to-party visit, while Chinese enterprises have shown interest in investing in Gujarat. Energy firm TBEA has signed a Rs. 2,500 crore deal for an energy park in the state.
Chinese analysts and business representatives have said they did not attribute too much importance to remarks made during the campaign, drawing a comparison with the United States election where candidates who often promise a hard line on foreign policy often moderate their stances when in government.
Mr. Modi has made four visits to China, most recently to Beijing in 2011, when he told Chinese investors his state of Gujarat welcomed investment and would ensure transparency. He also said then that he would promote closer economic ties between the countries and he believed India and China "will make Asia the centre-stage of the global economy".